Namaste Yogis & Yoginis,
When we practice yoga, or anything we want to become better at, our focus is often on the doing. Doing more, pushing harder, keep going no matter what. Although this can at times be appropriate (if we are resisting due to laziness, stagnancy, fear or unworthiness – plus we need all the elements in our practice including some fire), it is important to remember that at the heart of the yoga teachings are two principles – action and surrender – abhyasa and vairagya.
Abhyasa is the doing, the practice, the discipline, moving forward, focus, determination, the fire, the sun (Ha) – all necessary and valid – but no more so than the non-doing, surrender, letting go of results, taking rest, nurturing, integration, objectivity and moon energy (Tha) of vairagya (Ha + Tha = Hatha yoga).
Many elite athletes recognise the need to not only train, but rest. Many creative thinkers know that when they try and force an outcome they get blocked, and it's not until they relax that the creativity flows again and ideas come. When we grow a plant, we can't force it to grow faster by watering it more – in fact this can be detrimental, the roots can become weak and the plant can become ill or die. Similarly, in our asana practice, it is important to factor in rest, space, objectivity, integration.
If we want longer hamstrings yet all we do is push further, more – they will end up tighter. If we try to hurry our skill and push through pain to achieve a pose our body is not yet conditioned for, we can create an injury. Forceful practice can be unkind on our joints, space gives our joints freedom. If we try and ignore or force away feelings and emotions rising up, we can end up walking away from practice altogether, or imploding. We need time to integrate knowledge/information. We need time to condition and make ready our body and mind. We need time to replenish depleted resources.
This doesn't necessarily mean giving up practice. Sometimes this looks like time off the mat – taking a day off. Sometimes it is re-directing our practice towards pranayama, or mantra instead. Sometimes it is practising the same sequence but with a gentle flowing breath rather than passion and determination. Sometimes it is practising different postures that work on different parts of the body.
This is true for our study too. Sometimes we load ourselves up so much that we become dry, hard, too intense and even become overwhelmed. Then we need sweetness, joy – there's a reason Lord Ganesh is holding a bowl of sweets. This is also vairagya. Give our mind and heart breathing space too. The element relating to the Heart Chakra (Anahata) is ether/space (Akash). So we could say, that creating space in our practice is not just cultivating wisdom, but bringing love (and kindness) into our practice too.
Suzanne & the GCYC team
(Banner image credit: Fine Art America)
**REMINDER - CLASS CANCELLATION**
The Ashtanga Led class on Saturday at 4pm is CANCELLED on Saturday 22nd June due to maintenance work in the yoga room. Thank you for your understanding.
Vastu Shastra Workshop with Dr. Ram from Vibrant Ayurveda
Saturday 29th June - 1pm to 3pm - tickets $25
Boundary Setting Workshop with Jacinta Callaghan
Saturday 27th July - 1pm to 3pm - tickets $30
Headstand & Inversions Workshop with Nicky Knoff
Saturday 28th September - 1pm to 5pm - tickets $150
PRACTICE TIP - Balancing Hormones
Recently, I've found myself talking to a lot of people about hormone imbalance in various forms. As one of the main reasons behind hormone imbalance is stress/nervous system imbalance – I decided to share a little practice remedy that particularly supports liver, reproductive system and nervous system as these are greatly affected during times of stress. This practice can also be very balancing and harmonising for anyone experiencing stress for any other reason, but especially during/after an illness, or having too much to deal with mentally. Combined practice with diet and lifestyle modification supercharges the results and brings you back to your highest state of wellness.
Supta Baddha Konasana:
Preferably on a spinal roll or bolster (to help open lungs and release diaphragm which tends to lock up and sap energy during times of stress). Support your thighs to be able to stay longer. Spend 5-20 minutes depending on the time you have. (Liver, reproductive)
Support your head in a comfortable position with blankets/bolster or chair, and sit on blankets as necessary. Experiment until you feel comfortable enough to stay 5-10 mins (longer if you love it and have time) without creating tension in the neck/thoracic spine or closing the lungs down. (Liver, reproductive, heart also gets a rest in forwards)
Supta Pashasana (aka Jathara Parivrttasana):
Support your legs as needed to make sure upper body can be flat and comfortable enough to stay 3-5mins each side. (liver, abdominal organs, gentle spine mobilisation)
Optional Halasana and Sarvangasana if appropriate (plough and shoulderstand):
Only practice this if not menstruating, and it is a comfortable, regular practice for you. You can practice supported versions (book in for a private with Kath if you want to learn these). Hold 5-5 minutes each pose. Remember to counterpose with Matsyasana (fish) approximately 10 breaths. (Thyroid, hormones, calming Nervous System).
Ujjiya – 3-5 long, even, full breaths with no tension.
Nadi Shodhana – alternate nostril breathing. Begin with 3-5 rounds as comfortable. Build up to 5 minutes. Please ask for instruction from your teacher if you have not practiced these before (nervous system balancing).
3-20 minutes depending on time.
(Integration, internalisation, calm NS)
10 mins (more if you have time).
(Integration of the practice, rest and rejuvenation)
EXTRA TIP - If you're not sure whether you need an active or a restorative practice, salutes are a great diagnostic tool. Do a few salutes and see how you feel... If energised, then your tiredness might have been from stagnancy and active practice is best. If the salutes feel like a struggle, or tire you out further, then restorative practice is the best option.
YOGA ART PRIZE WINNERS!
We are happy to announce the winners of the GCYC Yoga Art Prize were… Carol D’Arcy’s “All is One” – Winner of the Grand Prize of 3 months free yoga, Andrew Cottle’s “For Geoffrey” and Debbie Schreiber’s “Joy” as the Grand Prize Runners Up. Lucy Deslandes’ “Lotus Pond” won the online People’s Choice, with Carol D’Arcy’s other entry “After the Fire” winning the People’s Choice on the day. Plus two lucky voters also won a month’s free yoga! Deidre Parkinson’s “Ardha Parsvottanasana” and Elissa Coxen’s “Aquarial Peace” were equal winners of the Teachers Choice prize. It was an amazing afternoon, with our yoga room morphing into art gallery and back again like magic. Huge thank you to all who participated, voted and attended! It was such an inspiring experience - so much talent in our community!!
Thank you again to all of our judges who provided their keen eye and love of art to the Art Prize. Introducing our judge Elizabeth Langreiter who stepped up at the last minute to be a valued member of our expert judging panel, and missed the initial introductions...
Elizabeth’s art journey began in a rather unusual way. Prior to 2008 she had zero interest in art. Then, in 2008, she was playing competitive tennis and during a match her partner served the ball and hit her in the back of the head. The hit caused a swelling and niggling pain which required medical investigation, but luckily the CAT scan came back all clear. After this incident, Elizabeth had a sudden urge to start painting.
After a year of teaching herself, she decided to join a local art class and entered her art in an art fair, selling 9 paintings and receiving 4 commissions. Each year since, more opportunities have arisen. In 2016, Elizabeth was selected as one of the top 100 Australian emerging artists by a panel of art experts including Ben Quilty, Roslyn Oxley and Amanda Love to participate in The Other Art Fair Sydney, and she also was asked to join The Milk Factory Gallery in Bowral and was offered her first solo exhibition. Her art is held in private collections in America, England, Canada, Japan, Singapore, Austria, Croatia, Hong Kong, Israel, Korea, Slovakia, New Zealand and Australia.
In the last year, Elizabeth has exhibited with Hearts and Mind Art Noosa, Wentworth Galleries Sydney, Gallery 307 Northbridge and was selected as a finalist in the Hunters Hill Art Prize. She was invited back for the 6th time to the Other Art Fair to exhibit in Sydney 14-17 March 2019 and named one of the top 20 best-selling artists of the fair. She was selected to exhibit at the Asia Contemporary Art Show at the Conrad Hilton Hong Kong 29 March -1 April for the first time and will also exhibit at the Affordable Art Fair Hong Kong 16-19 May. She was also invited to work as “Live Artist” at the World Congress of Accountants Gala Event on Wednesday 7th November 2018 in front of 2500 people from all over the world at the Sydney International Convention Centre.
Some years after the incident on the tennis court, Elizabeth saw a program on “Acquired savant syndrome” which is a condition where “dormant savant skills emerge after a brain injury or disease…where few such skills were evident before.” She now connects her head injury with her sudden urge to create.
SWEET WINTER TIPS
Having just been to Dr Ram for my seasonal assessment, I wanted to share a couple of lovely insights with you. I love going to Dr Ram in this way. Although Ayurveda has been a part of my life for many years, I still forget the finer details and to adapt and adjust seasonally – and it makes such a huge difference to my well-being. Dr Ram is full of knowledge, both intellectual and practical, and keeps me in tune with where I am and what needs a bit of balancing to feel my best.
Vitamin D is one of the important nutrients in Winter – to boost immune system and ward of colds/flu. Although we are lucky enough to have enough sun in Australia, Dr Ram also shared that to absorb Vitamin D properly, the skin has to be in good condition (moist) as Vitamin D is fat-soluble and doesn't absorb well when skin is dry. The simple remedy is abhyanga (self massage) with sesame oil in the morning (an essential Ayurveda practice for many reasons). Massage the oil into your skin and then wait 10-15 minutes before showering. You can use this time to meditate, or do pranayama, or walk, or just enjoy sitting in the sun.
Vitamin C is another important nutrient – you can enhance the benefits of eating citrus fruit by sitting in the sun while you eat them. Isn't that one of life's simple pleasures? To sit in the sun and eat an orange or a mandarin? And so good for you too. There is not much fire outside us in the winter months, so practices like this help to enhance and build our inner fire.
Summer is governed by the Sun, Winter by the moon – focusing your activity in the day, and being a little more inward in the evening can work in harmony with this season.
Go to the mountains, walk uphill and breathe deeply – this is grounding (which pacifies the Vata influence of Winter), invigorating, helps keep up our vitality and blood flow which in turn keeps us healthier and more resilient. Plus, as Dr Ram reminded me – it inspires gratitude for our precious breath.
It was great to celebrate International Yoga Day on Friday 21st June and be reminded of how precious this practice is. Head to our Instagram or Facebook page to see what our teachers had to say about what yoga means to them…
Hope to see you on the mat or at one of our events!
Love and blessings <3 <3 Suzanne